Nikiski’s soon-to-be third fire station is in need of additional funding, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will consider giving it to them at its next meeting.
An ordinance up for public hearing at Tuesday’s assembly meeting asks that $1 million in additional appropriations taken from the Nikiski Fire Service Area fund be made for the project.
In 2003, the Nikiski Fire Service Area spent funds to acquire property and design a new fire station at the corner of Holt Lamplight Road and Escape Route Road. In FY 2019, $3.2 million was appropriated to update design documents, complete construction and purchase the necessary equipment for the new station, the ordinance said.
Third-party cost estimates, however, show “current funding is not adequate to complete the scope of work,” according to the ordinance.
An additional $500,000, on top of the $1 million, may be necessary to finish the project, according to Nov. 21 memo to the borough assembly. The memo, from Borough Purchasing and Contracts Director John Hedges, Borough Finance Director Brandi Harbaugh and Nikiski Fire Service Area Chief Bryan Crisp, said that bids for the project were open and received on Nov. 6, which exceeded the original estimated project cost of $4.2 million.
“Since the bids came in higher than anticipated on November 6, 2019, the requested amount of $1,000,000 will need to be increased to $1,519,000,” the Nov. 21 memo said. “The additional $519,000 is proposed to be appropriated from the Nikiski Fire Service Area Capital Project Fund, fund balance.”
Crisp said that the third fire station is needed in order to provide adequate protection to homes and businesses in the area around Holt Lamplight road. That area is more than 5 miles away from the other two stations, which increases both response time for firefighters and insurance costs for homeowners, and accounts for about 20% of Nikiski’s population.
“That area makes up the highest amount of property loss in terms of dollars for us almost every year,” Crisp said. “By putting that station there, we’ll be able to get there quicker for medical and fire responses.”
As of 2016, Crisp said, there were 1,778 parcels of land within a 5-mile radius of the potential new station, including 917 residential properties. Any home more than 5 miles away from a fire station receives the highest Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating, Crisp said, which means higher premiums for coverage and potentially even denial of coverage.
Crisp said that based on an analysis from 2016, having a new fire station at that location would save property owners about $719,562 per year on premiums, assuming each piece of land is insured.
The station, if built, will be slightly smaller than the other two. The building will be just under 7,500 square feet and two stories, and will have room for one fire engine, one ambulance and two other trucks. In order to staff the station with an adequate number of personnel, Crisp said that they will likely have to hire three more firefighters next year. The upcoming Borough budget for fiscal year 2021, if approved, will include the extra money needed for the hires, Crisp said.
The funding ordinance will have a public hearing at the Tuesday, Dec. 3 assembly meeting.